Binocular Guide

      Do you see what I see? Squinting not helping you see far enough. Maybe you need to look into an amazing tool that is commonly known as BINOCULARS. Just don’t run out and buy a pair though. You need to figure out a few things first. 

    What are you going to use them for, how much can you spend, where are you going to use them? This guide will help you answer all those questions and get you out there: To see if you can see what I can see. I hope you can. God created an amazing and beautiful world out there. If you can’t get close to it, might as well bring it to you, through binoculars.

What the numbers mean

    When you start looking into buying a pair of binoculars the first thing, you'll notice is that they all have numbers behind them. 7 x 30, 10 x 45 and so on. 

  • 1st number - Magnification. This is how many times closer to the object it will look like. 7 x means it will look like you are 7 times closer to it. The bigger the number the closer you will seem at 1000 m. There is a downside to higher magnification, it also magnifies handshake. When you get to the higher magnifications you might need a tripod, especially if you want to take pictures through them.

   The average, non-expensive, for any kind of activity, would be 7 X or 8X. They give you a lot of magnification without giving up too much stability. Once you get to 10 and above, they get hard to hold still. 

  • 2nd Number - Objective Lens. This is the lens away from you and usually bigger than the one next to your eye. It lets in light. The higher the number the more light it lets in and the brighter the image. Higher numbers are better for low light conditions


   There are a few more numbers that you can see with each model you look at but those are the main 2. Things like field of vision will be calculated from those 2.  The rest are "I might needs." 

    There are also adjustable magnification binoculars. In these you can adjust the magnification from 7 to 10 or any other combination. They work great for some things, not so much for others. Fixed magnification is easier to use because you never have to adjust anything. They are ready to go all the time. If something pops up quickly, you won’t miss it.

    Adjustable lets you get more focused on individual things and at different ranges. Want to see that whatever a little closer. No problem, adjust. They just take a little more work to use but can also be more rewarding, depending on what you’re doing.

Other things to consider

   If you are just going to use them occasionally and don’t have any special needs for them than those 2 numbers are THE MOST IMPORTANT things to look at. If you are going to be in any special type of terrain or wear glasses, then there might be a few more things to consider when buying a pair of binoculars.

  1. Do you wear glasses? - If so, you need to look at eye relief. Eye relief is the distance you can hold binoculars away from your eyes before the field of vision starts to shrink. Good eye relief for glasses is 14mm. Try a few out and see which one works best for you.
  2. Weather proofing - If you're only going to be out on nice days in mild temps then you probably won’t need any weather proofing. If you are going to be in wet, or drastic temp changes, you might want to consider these
    • Fog proof - If you are getting out of your AC cooled car and into a hot area, the moisture in your binoculars might cause them to fog at first. Fog proof binoculars have a gas inside them that prevents this from happening. Like agon or several others.
    • Waterproof - If you’re going to be in a boat whale watching or going through an area that has a lot of moisture, like marshes and beaches, you might need waterproof. These are sealed to prevent water from entering them that could possibly damage them.

    There is one other thing to know about before purchasing your new pair of binoculars. Prisms. If you just had the lenses, the image would appear upside down. So inside of every pair of binoculars are prisms. They turn it right side up for us.

    There are 2 types of prisms

  • Roof - Roof prisms are in a straight line. This makes the binoculars easier to hold, they also cost more.
  • Porro - Porro prisms are fixed at right angles. The classic binocular shape has Porro lenses in them. You get a brighter image because of the alignment, and they are cheaper.

  There are also some handy little add ons for binoculars now. One of the best ones is a phone adapter. This great little gadget attaches your phone to your binoculars and lets you take pictures and video on your phone through your binoculars. It will still have the same view as it does through the binoculars. It’s also pretty cheap and they come in universal models.

    If you're going for higher magnification a tripod might be a good buy too. It’ll hold them steady while you gaze at the wonders in front of you. Combine this with the phone adapter and you’ve got a great way to make pictures and video, like a pro. The whole combo is pretty cheap. There’s one pair of really good binoculars that comes with both and is under $100 US. The prices on these range as much as they do on binoculars though. So, there is a combo for any budget.

  Binoculars are very handy little tools that let us see farther than our naked eyes allow. Sometimes we can’t get as close as we would like to some of the things that catch our eye. They have a big range in price but once you understand the terminology you can find the one, you’re looking for. I hope this handy little guide helps you make that choice. I hope it helps you see whatever it is you want to be closer to.  Once you get out and look around in this wonderous world God created, you never know what might come into focus.




Enjoy the outdoors. Life is out here!

written by Benjamin Evans